Wednesday, 18 November 2015

British Airways Graduate Programme

British Airways have been in touch about their Operational Research Graduate Programme. This offers a great opportunity to students with analytical skills. Here is the web site:

The closing data this year is 15/01/2016

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Datalab launch

The Stirling Big Data MSc. is proud to be part of the DataLab MSc. Our students join with those from Dundee and Robert Gordon University to be part of something bigger. We recently all attended the first DataLab MSc. event in the faboulous setting of the Playfair library in Edinburgh.

There were talks about Big Data in sport, finance and science as well as a very encouraging presentation from analytics recruitment company MBN about the excellent prospects for data literate graduates.

Here are all the students lined up for a group picture!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Welcome to Our New Students

I'm pleased to say we have 25 students on the Big Data MSc. this year. I'm enjoying getting to know them all. They seem to have diverse backgrounds, so I hope they will learn a lot from each other as well as from us!

I was very pleased to get an email from one of last year's graduates from the programme who has just been offered a job at a Big Data consultancy in Glasgow. That is great news.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

MSc. Project Talks

We had a very enjoyable afternoon of MSc. project talks on Thursday. Each of our MSc. students carries out a project over the summer and these talks were given by the students describing their work so far. The talks are always of high quality and this year was no exception.

Many of the projects are suggested by companies, who find it a good way to get to know a student and their abilities before making a job offer. One student is using the Neo4J graph database to model social relationships among people and children who might be at risk. This is being done for a company who provide software to social services departments in local authorities. The project is designed to test whether relationships that are not easy to spot in a traditional database can be discovered using a graph database. The project has also taught the student a list of other interesting technologies as she is implementing a web front end using Python, Flask, and Sigma.js.

Other projects included the remodelling of a credit card database for a major bank and the development of a marketing database using open data for an insurance company.

Each year we award a prize to the best performing student in the taught modules across all of our MSc. programs (there are five) and I'm pleased to say that this year it was a Big Data student who won the prize. They were awarded a year's membership of the British Computer Society plus a cheque for £150, also generously provided by the BCS. The prize was presented at the end of the project talks.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Big Data Jobs and Salary

I had a very interesting chat with a recruitment company who specialise in data and analytics jobs this week. They have kindly agreed to visit our students in Stirling to talk about the Big Data jobs market and help student pick, apply for and get the right job.

There will be sessions on writing your CV and on interview technique as well as insights into the kinds of jobs you might look for.

Students might find their 2015 salary guide interesting. You can see it on line here:

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Report From the Edinburgh Deep Learning Workshop

I spent yesterday at the very interesting Second Edinburgh Deep Learning Workshop. Edinburgh is a short train ride from Stirling so these events are very convenient.

I particularly enjoyed Rich Caruana's talk about reproducing deep network functionality in shallow networks (i,e, standard 1 hidden layer MLPs). He has a paper on the subject here. The basic premise is based on an idea called model compression, which was originally used to train a simple neural network to mimic the behaviour of an ensemble of many different classification techniques. By training the network to mimic the behaviour of the ensemble, it is possible to gain the performance benefit of that ensemble without the cost of making and combining a great many classifications. In this work, Rich and his team take a large deep network that has learned to perform a classification task very well and use it to generate training data for a simple MLP. They found that the simple MLP was able to perform as well as the deep network once training was complete. For me (and, I'm sure, many others) this is a very interesting result. I'll certainly be adding it to the content I cover in the analytics course on my Big Data MSc.

The event was sponsored by the Scottish Informatics & Computing Science Alliance (SICSA), which is a fantastic way of bringing together the staff and students in computing across the Scottish universities. Stirling students benefit from access to some very good events because of our membership of SICSA.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Want a Head Start?

Three resources to get you prepared

  1. Python- We use Python 2.7 for data manipulation and analysis. Here are some resources to get you started:
  2. MongoDB - We use MongoDB as our main NoSQL database
  3. Weka - Weka is a free data mining tool, which we use in the analytics course.
We will teach you these tools thoroughly during the course, but if you are acquainted with them before you start, you'll find you learn more once you are here. We assume our students are numerate and that they have at least a little programming experience. We are not doing software engineering, but you should know how to write small programs. Get yourself up to speed with these links:

Stirling and the Data Lab

We are very proud to be part of the Data Lab MSc. The Data Lab enables industry, public sector and world-class university researchers to innovate and develop new data science capabilities in a collaborative environment. Its core mission is to generate significant economic, social and scientific value from big data.

Students who join the Stirling University MSc. in Big Data will benefit from membership of the Data Lab, with special events and meetings with companies who employ data scientists. We are currently putting together a programme of Data Lab events for 2015/16. I'll post details here as we finalise them.

Here is the data lab web site:

Welcome to the University of Stirling Big Data MSc.

This is the first post of the University of Stirling's Big Data MSc. Blog. The MSc. is a one year, full time taught Masters Degree covering:

  • Maths and Statistics
  • Data Representation and Manipulation (with Python)
  • Applications of Big Data in Retail, Finance, Sport, Journalism, Science ...
  • NoSQL Databases
  • Hadoop, HDFS and Map Reduce
  • Data Analytics
  • Heuristic Optimisation
More details and applications here